When Teaching Artists Are Presenters
Sometimes as a teaching artist for BuildaBridge, I find I'm the one learning. Today's presentation for partners at Nationalities Service Center (NSC) was also a lesson in flexibility for me. I was presenting a demo lesson to a group of adults who work for Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and are interested in learning more about what we do with refugees at NSC. I am often more comfortable working with children, so working with adults was already a bit out of my comfort zone. In addition to this I found out that instead of 30 minutes we only had 20 minutes to share the model and have participants create a piece of art! As I often do when I'm preparing to teach and get nervous, I repeat to myself the first line of the BuildaBridge motto, "I will do my best," which reminds me that I don't need to bring the perfect lesson or never make a mistake. What I need to do is my best for for that day and that is enough. I also think about the line in the motto which says "to surround myself with people who want the best for me." When I'm teaching with BuildaBridge I'm always grateful that we never teach alone--we are surrounded by other teaching artists who want the best for each other. These two things I think contributed to the success of this lesson.
The tone of the meeting was informational, with other presenters using power point presentations. BuildaBridge Executive Director, Ami, introduced BuildaBridge and then I asked everyone to stand up and participate in the BuildaBridge song. They seemed a little surprised and almost caught off guard, as sometimes happens when we ask adults to participate in our song. But they were willing to participate, and I noticed them loosening up in the process. I then led them through the motto and a short conversation about trees. I quickly demonstrated the project while Assistant Teaching Artist Marilyn passed out materials. Almost everyone jumped right in and was willing to participate in art making together. I heard comments as we were finishing, with people saying "This was fun" and "Thanks for sharing this with us!" We had to quickly wrap it up, but I believe that they got a small taste of what our groups are like, and I hope there will be more opportunities to collaborate with HIAS in the future.
I am grateful for the team that I had to work with--for Ami and Marilyn's support. When you're feeling nervous or need to be very flexible it's so important to know that you have a team you can rely on.